“Are we leaving?”
Roth jolted, then whipped around to see Tressa stretched across his back seat. What the… How in the hell had he missed seeing her when he’d got in? Preoccupied, he told himself. Damn. She’d nearly given him a heart attack.
Activating the interior lights, he scanned her body as if looking for any damage. When he saw her red, puffy eyes, he fought the urge to climb over the center console and pull her into his comforting arms. And though she had every right to cry, he wanted to advise her not to waste her tears on a lowlife like Cyrus.
Roth’s words were gentle when he spoke. “Everyone is looking for you.”
She hugged her arms around her body. “I don’t want to be found. I can’t handle the looks and whispers right now.”
Being the voice of reason, he said, “People are worried about you, Tressa. They just want to know that you’re all right. You really should—”
“Roth, please. Spare me the lecture. I don’t have my car here. I need to go. Can you just get me away from here? Just drive. Please.” Her voice was low, but screamed of exhaustion.
Tressa’s sad, pleading eyes tugged at his heart. Who could blame her for wanting to avoid being poked and prodded like a lab rat by people’s stares of pity? Facing forward, he cranked the engine, popped the gearshift into Drive and pulled away.
Silence filled the car for the first few minutes. Roth avoided plying her with the usual pacifiers: it’s going to be okay, the pain will go away, look on the bright side. Instead, he stayed quiet because no words could ease the sting of betrayal. Only time could do that.
Roth adjusted the rearview mirror so that it settled on Tressa’s face. He hated seeing her this way, a sad replica of her customarily jovial self. “Maybe we should call Vivian to let her know you’re okay. She was really worried about you.”
Tressa’s eyes landed on his. Even through the reflection, their connection rang intense. Everything and nothing had changed. Though she’d ended her engagement, she was still off-limits. Maybe even more so now.
“I will,” was all she said before sliding her gaze away.
“Should I take you home?”
“No. He’ll probably be at my place. I don’t want to see him. Ever.”
Roth washed a hand over his mouth as if he was ironing his goatee. All he wanted to do was make her smile—laugh even. But he doubted anything he could have said or done would have accomplished that.
“Were you going to the mountains alone?”
An hour ago the answer would have been yes. But once he’d walked away from her on the balcony, he’d discovered a need for something—or in this case, someone—to take his mind off her. Still, he responded, “Yes, I’m going alone.”
“You don’t have a very good poker face.”
Damn. She’d read him. Now he felt like a complete ass. All she needed was another man lying to her. “Why?”
“I guess because you don’t lie enough to pull it off.”
He chuckled. She was right. Since lying was what people had done to him most of his life, he valued the truth more than most. But that wasn’t the why he meant. “Not that. Why did you ask if I was going alone?”
Her gaze fixed on his again. She didn’t need to answer for him to know she wanted an invite to his cabin. If her goal was to hide from the world, it would be the perfect escape for her. No one would find her in Silver Point. An hour ago the idea of him and Tressa running off together would have been damn appealing, but now it reeked of trouble. “Maybe you’d prefer a hotel? You wouldn’t—”
“You don’t want to be saddled with a jilted ex-bride-to-be. I get it.”
Damn. Why did she have to make it sound so morbid? “That’s not it, Tr—”
“Just drop me off at the nearest hotel. I’ve dealt with scarier things. I’ll be fine.”
Scarier things? What scarier things had she dealt with?
Ten minutes later they pulled up in front of the De Lore Hotel in downtown Raleigh. The sprawling building was the epitome of luxury. He’d heard nothing but great things about it. It even looked fancy. Concierge, bellmen, greeters. Tressa would be comfortable here. Much more comfortable than at his cramped cabin.